By MARK LONG AP Pro Football Writer
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Gardner Minshew’s return to Jacksonville was a turnover-filled folly, a much different version of “Minshew Mania.”
Minshew lost a fumble and threw three interceptions in his first game back in Jacksonville since the Jaguars traded him just before the 2021 season. Minshew’s miscues were critical in Indianapolis’ 37-20 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday.
“At the end of the day, I was careless with the ball,” Minshew said. “I didn’t do a good enough job taking care of it. I put our team in a really bad spot, and it’s not fair to the rest of the guys. So I’m really going to look at those, hold myself accountable.
“We’re not going to tuck our tail. We’re not going to drop our chin. We’re just going to keep rushing through and learn from it and we’ll come out the other side better.”
With rookie Anthony Richardson spraining his throwing shoulder and landing on injured reserve last week, the Colts turned to Minshew for at least the next month — maybe longer. It just so happened that his second start with Indy after two years in Philadelphia came against the team that drafted him in the sixth round in 2019.
Minshew gave Jaguars fans hope as a rookie, directing three game-winning drives and helping “Minshew Mania” become a thing. Fake mustaches, bandanas and jean shorts became nearly as common in the stands as Jags jerseys.
But it was a short-lived phenomenon as Minshew lost his final seven starts and was ultimately instrumental in Jacksonville landing Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft. Minshew and Lawrence shared first-team snaps during training camp together, until the Jags sent Minshew to the Eagles in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
“Obviously it was great to see everybody here,” Minshew said. “A lot of great memories being here. Obviously, you want to win every game, so that hurts. But, yeah, it was definitely tough to come back here and play like that.”
Minshew completed 33 of 55 passes for 329 yards, with a 2-yard touchdown to Josh Downs being one of the few highlights. Jacksonville’s Josh Allen forced a fumble on Indy’s second possession and then Minshew three picks to Andre Cisco, Rayshawn Jenkins and Darious Williams in a span of six drives before and after halftime.
It could have been worse, too. Minshew had another interception negated by a penalty and two more potential ones dropped by linebacker Devin Lloyd, who played with a partial cast on his right hand.
“Obviously, we got ourselves in a hole there with the turnovers,” Indy coach Shane Steichen said. “We got to do better there. It starts with myself doing a better job there, but I thought our guys fought hard and fought until the end. Obviously, we kept getting ourselves in a hole. I got to do better, like I said.”
Minshew got little help from Indy’s ground game.
Zack Moss ran seven times for 21 yards and a touchdown, and Jonathan Taylor added 19 yards on eight attempts in his second game back from the physically unable to perform list. Moss and Taylor combined to catch 11 passes for 84 yards.
“He’s ramping up,” Steichen said of Taylor. “He’s going to continue to ramp up each and every week.”
Minshew might, too.
This was his third-worst passer rating (60.3) in 26 career starts. It also was the first time he has thrown three interceptions in a game. Still, the Colts rallied and cut the lead to 11 with about 8 minutes remaining. But the defense could get a stop and then Minshew threw incomplete on a fourth-and-17 play.
“Just kept shooting ourselves in the foot one way or another,” Minshew said. “Personally, I was not good enough. I got to be better and give us a chance to win. As the game went on, it kept getting closer and we just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities.”